When I was around 10 years old, I decided to write down all the things my parents did that annoyed me. My intention was that I would refer to this when I had children so I wouldn’t make the same mistakes.
I don’t think I persevered with this project for more than a week or two, but I imagine I told myself to avoid things like (from Mum) not pulling the changing room curtains open while I was still changing to demand, ‘How does it look?’ And (for Dad) not asking embarrassingly loud questions like, ‘Is that the boy you like?’
No parent is perfect. We all have our struggles and need to be honest with our children that we stuff up sometimes, that being an adult is harder than we ever imagined it would be when we were their age, but that the love we felt for them in their first few hours and days has never changed.
I remember a 1970s song recorded by Christian singer Amy Grant called ‘Father’s Eyes’. It carried the prayer that when people looked at her life, they would say: ‘She’s got her Father’s eyes … eyes that find the good in things when good is not around, eyes that find the source of help when help just can’t be found, eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain … just like my Father’s eyes.’
Sometimes people will see the likeness of our earthly father in us—the good and bad. How much better for us and our kids when people look at us and notice the likeness of our perfect Heavenly Father.
Christina Tyson has been a Salvation Army officer (minister) for almost 30 years. For 16 years she was involved in Salvation Army communications, but now works to support local churches and recruit future leaders. Recently she also took on an additional role as The Salvation Army’s Response Officer for the New Zealand Royal Commission into Abuse in Care. Christina and her husband Keith live in Wellington, New Zealand, and have three adult children.